DEAR TEACHER: Next year, my children's elementary school will begin looping and keeping the students for three years with one teacher. The children will only have two teachers in elementary school - K-1-2 and 3-4-5. Is this good preparation for middle school, where they will have several teachers each day? What are the pros and cons of looping? - Wondering
Answer: Whether students attend an elementary school where they have a new teacher each year or the same teacher for two or more years, there will be an adjustment to having more than one classroom teacher in middle school. In some countries, looping continues into high school, where students have the same content area teacher.
On balance, there are more pros than cons to looping. The big advantage for students is a continuing relationship with a teacher. Other advantages for them include an easier transition at the start of the school year, stronger relationships with classmates, more individualized instruction, more self-confidence in the classroom and greater continuity in what they are learning. There are advantages for teachers also. In the second year of looping and beyond, teachers save time at the start of the year because they already know their students' strengths and weaknesses and what they have been taught. They have more time to develop solid relationships with students and their families. And they have more time to meet the special needs of students.
There is one big con for both students and teachers: a poor match with each other. Another is a poor match between students. And it can be difficult for new students who join a class that has been together for more than a year.
Question: Our 4-year-old daughter has been in a Montessori preschool for almost two years. Her teacher agrees with us that she is ready for kindergarten. In fact, she has already taught herself to read. Unfortunately, we may have to enroll her in private school, as her birthday is 10 days after the cutoff to get into the public schools. What are the benefits and drawbacks of being the oldest/brightest girl in her class versus the youngest/ merely average? - Decision Time
Answer: When parents make the decision to send their children to preschool, they also need to think about how many years the children will attend preschool before starting kindergarten. They should try to find a preschool with a curriculum that gradually builds up to readiness for kindergarten for the older 4s and younger 5s in the last year of attendance.
You are making an interesting assumption that being the oldest in a class also means being the brightest. It may or may not the case. What being the oldest really means is that the child is more likely to be ready for the increasingly academic demands of today's kindergartens. On the other hand, being the youngest in a class certainly does not equate with being a merely average student. It could also turn out that the youngest child is among the brightest in a class. Younger children may or may not be ready to handle the social and emotional and behavioral demands of kindergarten.
Send questions to Dear Teacher, in care of Ohio Valley Parent, Box 395, Carmel, IN 46082-0395; or e-mail: dearteach@aol. com.